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You’ll never struggle to find a good place to eat in the Golden State. Thanks to its agricultural abundance, the state is filled with edible wonders. What better way to get to know its culinary riches than by visiting the oldest restaurants in California?
These eateries have not only withstood the test of time but have also maintained their authenticity. Want to have a meal that’s delectable and memorable? Dine at the same spots previous generations frequented and visit the oldest restaurants in California.
California's Oldest Restaurants
Location: 202 Stage Road, Pescadero
Year established: 1894
Generations of families have grown up with Duarte family’s meals. While the tavern was initially established as a barbershop, the Duarte family started sharing their love of food with their customers. Over one hundred years later, Duarte’s Tavern is still a popular place to savor traditional American cuisine with a Portuguese twist.
Watson’s Soda Fountain and Cafe
Location: 116 East Chapman Avenue, Orange
Year established: 1899
Watson’s Soda Fountain and Cafe’s retro vibe and diner-style comfort foods will have you feeling like you traveled back in time. Located in Orange’s Historic Plaza, this hidden O.C. gem is home to California’s original soda fountain. Pro tip: don’t skip the ice cream sundaes at one of the oldest restaurants in California.
The Oldest Restaurants in Northern California
Union Hotel Occidental
Location: 3731 Main Street, Occidental
Year established: 1879
Originally known as Union Saloon, Union Hotel Occidental is a simple and cozy NorCal destination you shouldn’t miss. After you dine at the family-style Italian restaurant, you won’t be able to resist booking a night at one of the luxury guest houses on-site. Union Hotel’s location also makes it an ideal spot to spend a weekend exploring Sonoma.
The Oldest Restaurants in San Francisco
Location: 2237 Mason Street, San Francisco
Year established: 1886
Fior d’Italia was opened in 1886 to feed the gold miners who wanted to try their luck along San Francisco’s Barbary Coast. Due to a variety of reasons, this historic restaurant operated at numerous locations. But all throughout, Fior d’Italia has managed to maintain its reputation—serving traditional Italian food, providing great service, and offering a wholesome atmosphere.
Location: 240 Front Street, San Francisco
Year established: 1893
Schroeder’s has brought an authentic taste of Germany to S.F. for over a hundred years. The rich history, friendly atmosphere, and prime downtown location have made one of the oldest restaurants in California a long-standing favorite. Bite into the delicious wursts and schnitzels and you’ll be coming back in no time.
The oldest seafood restaurants in San Francisco
Location: 240 California Street, San Francisco
Year established: 1849
Older than the state itself (yes, really), Tadich Grill is believed to be the oldest restaurant in California and the third oldest in the country. Given its time-honored history and continuously delicious cuisine, it’s safe to say that San Francisco’s Tadich Grill has earned its iconic reputation. Don’t miss out on trying the best authentic mesquite broiled salmon when you visit.
The Old Clam House
Location: 299 Bayshore Boulevard, San Francisco
Year established: 1861
Another one of the oldest seafood restaurants in San Francisco, The Old Clam House (open under normal circumstances) is a classic. The restaurant serves iconic California food such as clam chowder and the signature cioppino. If you’re ever on a getaway to San Francisco, don’t skip this legendary restaurant.
Southern California’s oldest restaurants
Tivoli Bar and Grill
Location: 505 Sixth Avenue, San Diego
Year established: 1885
Cuisine: Bar food
Tivoli is the oldest establishment in San Diego specializing in eclectic music, social atmosphere, and true bar food. The restaurant’s original wooden bar and the first installed cash register is still on display. Try the famous wings whenever you’re there and get a taste of what mid-20th century hangouts were all about.
Cold Spring Tavern
Location: 5995 Stagecoach Road, Santa Barbara
Year established: 1868
Cuisine: American/ Wild game
The rustic Cold Spring Tavern looks exactly the way a restaurant serving American food and wild game should. In other words, this antique-filled mountainside saloon looks and feels like it's straight out of a Hollywood Western. Not only is the restaurant itself historic, but its surrounding 19th-century buildings add more color to its setting. Enjoy a hearty meal at Cold Spring Tavern and have fun exploring the area.
The Oldest Restaurants in Los Angeles
Philippe The Original
Location: 1001 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles
Year established: 1908
Cuisine: Breakfast and sandwiches
Philippe The Original claims to be the restaurant that invented the French dip sandwich. The story goes that in 1918, owner Mathie Phillipe was making a sandwich for a policeman but dropped it into a roasting pan filled with hot juices. The policeman took the sandwich anyway and came back the next day with friends asking for more. The rest is history.
The Original Saugus Cafe
Location: 25861 Railroad Avenue, Santa Clarita
Year established: 1886
The Original Saugus Cafe is believed to be the first-ever restaurant opened in Los Angeles County. Legend has it that President Theodore Roosevelt stopped by the cafe and enjoyed a splendid special New York steak. As one of the oldest restaurants in California, the Saugus Cafe has also served the likes of Clark Gable, John Wayne, and Charlie Chaplin.
The oldest Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles
El Cholo the Original
Location: 1121 South Western Avenue, Los Angeles
Year established: 1923
Believed to be the oldest Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, El Cholo does justice to the most popular ethnic cuisine in California. Since opening its doors in 1923, the restaurant has operated as a family-owned business and continues to do so today. El Cholo also claims to be the first restaurant to serve nachos in L.A.—the ionic food made its appearance in 1959.
La Luz Del Dia Restaurant
Location: West 1 Olvera Street, Los Angeles
Year established: 1959
Cuisine: Michoacan Mexican
La Luz Del Dia Restaurant is another one of the oldest restaurants in California. The delicious eatery serves Michoacan Mexican food in Downtown L.A. The beautiful tile-covered restaurant is still run by the same family that established it and continues to serve authentic food. Try the combination plates at La Luz Del Dia for a hearty meal and a little taste of everything.
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